An example of irony

An Example of IronyAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

In one of the most interesting irony examples, the most shoplifted book in America is The Bible.

An Example of IronyURAIWONS/Shutterstock

In one of the more hilarious examples of irony, McDonalds' employee health page, which is now shut down, once warned against eating McDonald's burgers and fries.

An Example of IronyMark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

Every year ABC cuts down A Charlie Brown Christmas—a movie about the over-commercialization of the holidays—to make room for more commercials.

An Example of IronyMoviestore Collection/Shutterstock

He once entered a “Charlie Chaplin walk” contest… and came in 20th. If you think these ironic examples are funny, these hilarious classroom stories are guaranteed to give you a laugh.

An Example of IronyBrocreative/Shutterstock

The only losing basketball coach in University of Kansas history is James Naismith—the man who invented basketball in 1891. This hilarious example of irony proves that just because you thought of the idea doesn't always mean you'll be the best at executing it.

An Example of IronyNatalia Macheda/Shutterstock

The site where Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 BC is now a no-kill animal shelter for homeless cats.

An Example of IronyMikhail Kolesnikov/Shutterstock

The first man to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel died after slipping on an orange peel.

An Example of IronyIryna Demydenko/Shutterstock

The condition of not being able to pronounce the letter R is called… “rhotacism.”

An Example of IronyDariush M/Shutterstock

Bill Hillman, a bullfighting enthusiast, wrote a book called How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona, all about how to avoid being gored by bulls. Three weeks after the release of the book, he was gored by a bull.

An Example of IronyBlend Images/Shutterstock

In 2011, the winners of an elementary school spelling bee in Utah received a trophy reading “Viewmont Spellling Bee, 1st Place.” Quite the example of irony—not only that the trophy contained a misspelling, but that it was the word “spelling.” Here are 20 grammar jokes every word nerd will appreciate.

Richard Mitchell/Shutterstock

In 2002, a tree was planted in a park in Los Angeles in memory of Beatles guitarist George Harrison. The tree later died after being infested by beetles.


Gary Kremen, the founder of, encouraged everyone he knew to join it, including his girlfriend. She eventually left him for a man she met on


When crossword puzzles debuted in the early twentieth century, the New York Times was very critical of them, calling them “a primitive sort of mental exercise.

” In 1942, the Times published its first crossword puzzle, and today, the New York Times crossword is the most famous one in America.

If you're laughing at these irony examples, then check out these 25 clever jokes that'll make you sound smart.


In 1985, a group of New Orleans lifeguards gathered at the municipal pool to celebrate the fact that no one had drowned at the pool that past summer. After the party, they discovered the fully-clothed body of a man who had drowned in the pool.


In 2009, the Guinness Book of World records named Jonathan Lee Riches the record-holder for suing the largest number of people. Angrily declaring that the Guinness Book “has no right to publish my work, my legal masterpieces,” he sued them.

Irony Examples, Definition and Worksheets

Not ready to purchase a subscription? Click to download the free sample version   Download sample

  • Irony is a figure of speech and one of the most widely- known literary devices, which is used to express a strong emotion or raise a point.
  • As defined, Irony is the use of words to convey a meaning that is opposite of what is actually said.
  • For example, a driver whose license was confiscated by a traffic officer may say “Thank you Officer, now that you have my license I can’t drive”

In this situation, the driver was mad and irritated at what happened. But instead of directly expressing his anger, the driver used Irony i.e. thanking the officer for getting his license.

There are three types of irony. They are:

  1. Verbal Irony
  2. Situational Irony
  3. Dramatic Irony

Verbal Irony

It is the use of words to present a meaning that is different from what the speaker says. Almost all the time, the person intentionally and knowingly uses Verbal Irony to be understood as meaning something different to what his or her words’ literal meaning.

Verbal Irony is the easiest to identify among the three types. It is also the most commonly used.

Our previous example is a kind of Verbal Irony. When the driver thanked the traffic officer, he wanted his words to mean that he was not amused at all.

Other examples are:

  1. After looking at a student’s poor test score, the teacher says, “You will surely finish the year with highest honors”.
  2. A man tastes his wife’s delicious home- cooked meal and exclaims, “I shall never eat this food ever again”.
  3. After they kissed, the groom, with a smile on his face, muttered to his bride, “This is the day I will always want to forget”.

Situational Irony

Situational Irony happens when what is expected and intended to happen doesn’t take place. Instead, the exact opposite occurs. The result could be either serious or comic.

This type of Irony is used adds more meaning to a situation making it more interesting and thought- provoking.

For example, a man whose house was in the woods put a booby trap to protect him from wild animals. One night, while walking, the man didn’t see the trap. He injured himself.

The booby trap was intended to protect the man but it wounded him instead. This is exactly the contrary of what was expected.

Examples are:

  1. Dr. Johnson smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.
  2. Our boss, the owner of a big construction firm, cannot fix his house’s broken ceiling.
  3. The defence lawyer failed to acquit his son in a case.

Dramatic Irony

  1. Dramatic Irony happens when the audience or readers are aware of something, which the character of a movie or story does not know.

  2. Oftentimes, such character acts or moves in a way, which is contrary or different from what the audience or the readers expect him or her to do.
  3. This type of Irony creates intense feelings such as humor and suspense.

Dramatic Irony is used to convey emotions more intently. It gives the audience or readers a sense of thrill and excitement.

In a horror movie for example, the character enters a dark room while hearing a woman’s voice. The audiences don’t get scared because they knew beforehand that the woman’s voice was just that of the character’s mother.

Other examples include:

  1. In “Saving Private Ryan”, the group of soldiers were hopeless they could find Private James Ryan alive, but the audience knew from the start that Private Ryan went on to live until his later years.
  2. The wife believed that her husband died in an airplane crash and but the audience was aware that the husband had survived.
  3. Readers knew that Caitlyn’s character in the novel “A Song for Caitlin” would eventually die but the other characters never even knew she was sick.
See also:  What is plagiarism?

Irony Worksheets

This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use irony worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what irony is and how it can be used. You can use these irony worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.

An Example of Irony Type of Irony An Example of Irony Choose the Irony An Example of Irony Fun With Irony

Link/cite this page

If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.

Irony Examples and Worksheets: – KidsKonnect, July 11, 2017

Link will appear as Irony Examples and Worksheets: – KidsKonnect, July 11, 2017

Use With Any Curriculum

Types of Irony

The 1995 pop song by singer Alanis Morissette, 'Ironic,' presents a number of bad-luck situations, from 'rain on your wedding day' to finding an ideal mate and learning he or she is already married. The problem, though, is that not one of the situations described in the song is actually ironic.

The concept of irony and what makes a situation 'ironic' is something many people struggle with, mostly because overuse of the term can make its definition unclear. Often confusing irony with bad luck or coincidence, popular culture and media are quick to label things as ironic when sometimes they just aren't.

Irony is a literary device that relies on the difference between expectation and outcome.

While no one wants it to rain on their wedding day, a rain-free wedding is not a guarantee for any bride and groom. Bad luck, but not ironic. Same with meeting the 'man of your dreams' and finding he's already married. Tough break, but it's been my experience that you can't reasonably expect every dream man you encounter to be available to commit to you forever.

In those examples, there is no actual discrepancy between expectation and outcome. You can, however, reasonably expect a song about ironic situations to contain ironic situations. That all the situations described in 'Ironic' are not ironic is, in fact, ironic.

Now that we have a handle on what irony is not, let's explore three different types of irony: verbal, dramatic and situational.

Verbal Irony and Examples

Verbal irony is the use of language to express the opposite sentiment than what is expected. The most recognizable form of verbal irony is sarcasm, where the speaker says the opposite of what they mean, often for comedic effect.

Sometimes my dad will serve himself dessert and tell the rest of the family that it is 'disgusting' while simultaneously shoveling it in his mouth. He uses sarcasm, saying it is disgusting when he's clearly enjoying it, to get us to laugh.

There are times, though, when verbal irony is less about laughter and more about underscoring how we feel by saying the opposite of what is true. We often say the opposite of how we feel to show disappointment: 'It's okay; I didn't want to win a million dollars anyway.'

In many of her novels, but especially in 'Pride and Prejudice,' Jane Austen uses irony to critique the institution of marriage. The novel begins: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.'


Rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is an incongruity between the literal and the implied meaning
“Ironic” redirects here. For the Alanis Morissette song, see Ironic (song). For other uses, see Irony (disambiguation).

A stop sign ironically defaced with a plea not to deface stop signs

Irony (from Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning 'dissimulation, feigned ignorance'[1]), in its broadest sense, is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or event in which what appears, on the surface, to be the case, differs radically from what is actually the case.

Irony can be categorized into different types, including verbal irony, dramatic irony, and situational irony. Verbal, dramatic, and situational irony are often used for emphasis in the assertion of a truth.

The ironic form of simile, used in sarcasm, and some forms of litotes can emphasize one's meaning by the deliberate use of language which states the opposite of the truth, denies the contrary of the truth, or drastically and obviously understates a factual connection.

[2] Other forms, as identified by historian Connop Thirlwall, include dialectic and practical irony.[3]


Henry Watson Fowler, in The King's English, says, “any definition of irony—though hundreds might be given, and very few of them would be accepted—must include this, that the surface meaning and the underlying meaning of what is said are not the same.” Also, Eric Partridge, in Usage and Abusage, writes that “Irony consists in stating the contrary of what is meant.”

The use of irony may require the concept of a double audience. Fowler's A Dictionary of Modern English Usage says:

Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear & shall not understand, & another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware both of that more & of the outsiders' incomprehension.[4]

The term is sometimes used as a synonym for incongruous and applied to “every trivial oddity” in situations where there is no double audience.[4] An example of such usage is:

Sullivan, whose real interest was, ironically, serious music, which he composed with varying degrees of success, achieved fame for his comic opera scores rather than for his more earnest efforts.[5]

The American Heritage Dictionary's secondary meaning for irony: “incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs”.[6] This sense, however, is not synonymous with “incongruous” but merely a definition of dramatic or situational irony.

It is often included in definitions of irony not only that incongruity is present but also that the incongruity must reveal some aspect of human vanity or folly.

Thus the majority of American Heritage Dictionary's usage panel found it unacceptable to use the word ironic to describe mere unfortunate coincidences or surprising disappointments that “suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly.”[7]

On this aspect, The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has also:[8]

A condition of affairs or events of a character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected; a contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and fitness of things. (In French, ironie du sort).

Douglas C. Muecke identifies three basic features of all irony. First, irony depends on a double-layered or two-story phenomenon for success. “At the lower level is the situation either as it appears to the victim of irony (where there is a victim) or as it is deceptively presented by the ironist.

See also:  How 8 fonts got their names

”[9] The upper level is the situation as its appears to the reader or the ironist. Second, the ironist exploits a contradiction, incongruity, or incompatibility between the two levels. Third, irony plays upon the innocence of a character or victim.

“Either a victim is confidently unaware of the very possibility of there being an upper level or point of view that invalidates his own, or an ironist pretends not to be aware of it.”[10]

Origin of the term

According to Encyclopædia Britannica:[11]

The term irony has its roots in the Greek comic character Eiron, a clever underdog who by his wit repeatedly triumphs over the boastful character Alazon. The Socratic irony of the Platonic dialogues derives from this comic origin.

According to Richard Whately:[12]

Aristotle mentions Eironeia, which in his time was commonly employed to signify, not according to the modern use of 'Irony, saying the contrary to what is meant', but, what later writers usually express by Litotes, i.e. 'saying less than is meant'.

The word came into English as a figure of speech in the 16th century as similar to the French ironie. It derives from the Latin ironia and ultimately from the Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning 'dissimulation, ignorance purposely affected'.[13]


A “No smoking” sign surrounded by images of a smoking Sherlock Holmes at Baker Street tube station

The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics distinguishes between the following types of irony:[3]

  • Classical irony: Referring to the origins of irony in Ancient Greek comedy, and the way classical and medieval rhetoricians delineated the term.
  • Romantic irony: A self-aware and self-critical form of fiction.
  • Cosmic irony: A contrast between the absolute and the relative, the general and the individual, which Hegel expressed by the phrase, “general [irony] of the world.”[3]
  • Verbal irony: A contradiction between a statement's stated and intended meaning
  • Situational irony: The disparity of intention and result; when the result of an action is contrary to the desired or expected effect.
  • Dramatic irony and tragic


Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. It may also be a situation that ends up in quite a different way than what is generally anticipated. In simple words, it is a difference between appearance and reality.

Types of Irony

On the grounds of the above definition, we distinguish two basic types of irony: (1) verbal irony, and (2) situational irony. Verbal irony involves what one does not mean.

For example, when in response to a foolish idea, we say, “What a great idea!” This is verbal irony.

Situational irony occurs when, for instance, a man is chuckling at the misfortune of another, even when the same misfortune is, unbeknownst to him, befalling him.

Difference Between Dramatic Irony and Situational Irony

Dramatic irony is frequently employed by writers in their works. In situational irony, both the characters and the audience are fully unaware of the implications of the real situation.

In dramatic irony, the characters are oblivious of the situation, but the audience is not. For example, in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, we know well before the characters that they are going to die.

In real life circumstances, irony may be comical, bitter, or sometimes unbearably offensive.

Common Examples of Irony

Let us analyze some interesting examples from our daily life:

  • I posted a video on YouTube about how boring and useless YouTube is.
  • The name of Britain’s biggest dog was “Tiny.”
  • You laugh at a person who slipped stepping on a banana peel, and the next thing you know, you’ve slipped too.
  • The butter is as soft as a slab of marble.
  • “Oh great! Now you have broken my new camera.”

Short Examples of Verbal Irony

  1. The doctor is as kind hearted as a wolf.
  2. He took a much-needed vacation, backpacking in the mountains. Unfortunately, he came back dead tired.
  3. His friend’s hand was as soft as a rock.
  4. The desert was as cool as a bed of burning coals.
  5. The student was given ‘excellent’ on getting zero in the exam.
  6. The roasted chicken was as tender as a leather boot.
  7. He was in such a harried state that he drove the entire way at 20 miles per hour.
  8. He enjoyed his job about as much as a root canal.

Examples of Irony

The basic meaning of irony is the difference between how things seem to be and the reality. As a literary technique it is used when a certain outcome is revealed, but is not what readers were expecting or hoping for. Irony can be difficult to define; it's often subjective and depends on the audience's expectations.

Take the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette. There were many heated debates when it came out over whether the situations described in the song are actually ironic or just unfortunate incidents. And over the years there were more debates about whether the song really is ironic because it's called “Ironic” but nothing in the song is ironic. Confusing? Yes, that's irony.

While it is possible for one person to find something ironc that another person does not, there are several defined types for irony that apply in life and in literature as you can see from the irony examples below.

There are many ways to play with irony. This is great because it brings added layers and texture to a story. Irony is predominantly defined within three main categories: dramatic irony, situational irony, and verbal irony. Let's have some fun with each in these examples of irony.

Dramatic Irony

Dramatic irony is used when the audience knows more about what's going on than the characters. This creates suspense, or humor, as the audience waits to see if the characters will come to understand what's really happening. Dramatic irony heightens the audience's anticipation, hopes, or fears, but it can also be used for comedic effect.

Have you ever read a novel or watched a play or movie where the narrator was omniscient (knew what every character was thinking and feeling)? These are great setups for dramatic irony.

  • A novel's heroine visits her favorite café every day from 11am to 1pm to work on her manuscript. Her brother's best friend knows this and is trying to find a way to ask her out on a date.The day he gets up the courage to go to the café she's not there. Where is she? The reader knows she's been taken ill, he does not. Now, a healthy dose of suspense is added to the plot.
  • Let's take the same woman and her brother's best friend in a different, comedic direction. She still visits the café every day and her brother's best friend is still determined to tell her how he feels. In this instance, he wants to leave a love poem at her door. One day, thinking she'll be at the café, he goes to her apartment to slide his poem under her door, but we know she's running late and is still at home. Right when he bends down to push the piece of paper under her door, she flings it open in a hurry, steps out, and trips right over him!
  • A woman thinks her boyfriend is about to break up with her. He hasn't been himself lately, acting distracted and distant. We know he bought her an engagement ring and is nervous she won't say yes. He calls her one afternoon and simply says, “I need to see you. Meet me at Columbus Square at six o'clock.” She's sure he's going to break up with her. But when she arrives, he's set up a beautiful proposal with a string quartet, dozens of roses, and a huge sparkler of a diamond.
  • In Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Macbeth appears to be loyal to Duncan, but he is actually plotting his murder. Duncan doesn't know Macbeth's plans, but the audience knows what is going to happen.
  • George Orwell makes full use of dramatic irony in Animal Farm. Throughout the book the reader knows many crucial facts that the characters are not aware of. Such as the animals believing Boxer was sent to the hospital, when the reader knows the pigs sold him to the slaughter house and used the money to buy whiskey for themselves.
See also:  What is a histogram?

Dramatic irony has a nice place in both comedy and tragedy. As readers wait to see when the main character will “catch on”, suspense is building and the pages are turning. For more examples, take a look at Dramatic Irony Examples.

Situational Irony

This type of irony occurs when something happens that is completely different from what was expected. Usually, these instances incorporate some type of contradiction and a certain level of shock.

  • An ambulance driver speeds to the scene of a road accident. The victim isn't badly hurt until the ambulance driver whips around a corner and runs over the victim's legs, not realizing she'd crawled to the center of the road.
  • The whole story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is a case of situational irony. Dorothy and her friends are in search of external forces to help them get what they need, but discover that they each had what they needed the whole time. Dorothy learns that the shoes she was wearing can get her home. Scarecrow discovers he was smart all along. The Tinman finally learns that he has a good heart. The cowardly Lion turns out to be extremely courageous.
  • The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin tells the tale of a wife who learned her husband was dead. She felt a sense of freedom, thinking about her new life out from under his thumb. Suddenly, the husband returns (he never was dead) and she dies of shock.
  • A man has been working hard all his life, saving a portion of every paycheck for retirement. Upon retirement he plans to move to the Virgin Islands, sit back and relax. On the morning of this retirement party, he dies of a sudden, massive heart attack.
  • A man buys a gun to protect his home, but during a break-in the intruder wrestles the gun from him and shoots him.

For more examples, check out Examples of Situational Irony.

Verbal Irony

This type of irony comes to play when a speaker says one thing, but means another.

Definitions and Examples of Irony in Literature

Check out the lyrics and more.

Listen to Flocabulary’s Figurative Language song. You’ll learn all about irony, metaphor and more.

Articulating a simple irony definition can be daunting. It’s a large concept, but irony can be broken down into three central categories. We’ll define each of these three main types of irony, and provide examples from plays, short stories, essays and poems.


Definition: There are three types of irony: verbal, situational and dramatic.

Verbal irony occurs when a speaker’s intention is the opposite of what he or she is saying. For example, a character stepping out into a hurricane and saying, “What nice weather we’re having!”

Situational irony occurs when the actual result of a situation is totally different from what you’d expect the result to be. Sitcoms often use situational irony.

For example, a family spends a lot of time and money planning an elaborate surprise birthday party for their mother to show her how much they care. But it turns out, her birthday is next month, and none of them knew the correct date.

She ends up fuming that no one cares enough to remember her birthday.

Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows a key piece of information that a character in a play, movie or novel does not. This is the type of irony that makes us yell, “DON’T GO IN THERE!!” during a scary movie. Dramatic irony is huge in Shakespeare’s tragedies, most famously in Othello and Romeo and Juliet, both of which we’ll examine later.

Why Writers Use It: Irony inverts our expectations. It can create the unexpected twist at the end of a joke or a story that gets us laughing — or crying. Verbal irony tends to be funny; situational irony can be funny or tragic; and dramatic irony is often tragic.

Irony in Shakespeare and Literature

Dramatic Irony in Othello

Othello is one of the most heartrending tragedies ever written, and Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony is one of the reasons the play is so powerful to read and watch.

We know that the handkerchief used as proof of Desdemona’s infidelity was, in fact, stolen by Emilia at Iago’s behest. Desdemona was framed by Iago, and we know she is innocent. But we are powerless to stop Othello; he has resolved to murder his wife.

Iago, whom Othello considers a friend, has been plotting Othello’s demise for the duration of the play. Othello does not know that Iago is the one pulling the strings, but we do.

We know he is the one who convinces Roderigo to kill Cassio, even as we watch him pretend to help Cassio after he is wounded. Only we see Iago kill Roderigo before he can reveal the truth.

In this way, we are complicit with Iago’s misdeeds. We are the only witnesses, and yet we can do nothing.

Dramatic Irony in Romeo and Juliet

In the final act of this archetypal love story, Shakespeare employs dramatic irony to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.